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CF Montreal Joel Waterman

Seven Former CPL Athletes Crack Canada’s Preliminary Roster

By on February 26, 2024 0 1919 Views

Mauro Biello has named fifty-seven athletes to his preliminary national team roster ahead of Canada’s play-in match against Trinidad and Tobago next month.

There are several athletes named who will ring familiar to Canadian Premier League faithful, with seven former CPL players represented in Canada’s preliminary roster.

Without further ado, here they are:

CD Leganes Diyaeddine Abzi
Photo Credit: CD Leganes

CD Leganes – Diyaeddine Abzi

Former York United left-back Diayeddine Abzi returns to national team contention whilst on loan in Spain’s second tier with CD Leganes. The 25-year-old is on loan from France’s Pau FC with an option to buy, and Biello might be tempted to produce a camp invite to judge Abzi’s progression from his Canada U-23 days.

The Morocco-born athlete developed in Montreal with Quebecois side Salaberry before transitioning to AS Blainville. With the arrival of the CPL, he was recruited by the Nine Stripes and transitioned into a full-back role from his previous midfield position.

That transition paid immediate dividends, with Abzi going to make 76 appearances for the Nine Stripes, contributing eight goals and nine assists before moving to France and procuring 32 matches for Ligue 2 side Pau.

CF Montreal Joel Waterman
Photo Credit: CF Montreal

CF Montreal – Joel Waterman

It’s no surprise to see Joel Waterman on the list: he’s grown year-over-year with CF Montreal after making history as the first CPL-to-MLS transfer, with the 28-year-old cracking over 100 appearances for the MLS side in 2023.

The former Cavalry FC standout had was with the team at the FIFA World Cup, though his only appearances to date have come in pre-tournament friendlies against Bahrain and Japan.

At 28, he’s now at a prime age in his career and could capitalize on a transition moment in the Canadian national team’s typical lineup.

CF Montreal Jonathan Sirois
Photo Credit: CF Montreal

CF Montreal – Jonathan Sirois

Now firmly established as CF Montreal’s number one goalkeeper, Jonathan Sirois got his season off to a good start with a clean sheet this weekend – his fourteenth with the side.

The former Valour loanee has been earning growing backing to get a national team mod, especially given that last season saw him named CF Montreal’s Defensive Player of the Year after a team-record eleven shutouts.

He wasn’t bad in the CPL either, by the way.

Korona Kielce Dominick Zator

Korona Kielce – Dominick Zator

This big physical defender took a big gamble when he left his Canadian Premier League post to join Polish top flight relegation battlers Korona Kielce, but it’s a move that paid off with national team call-ups last year.

The Calgarian is a constant starter in year two with his Polish club, and even donned the armband for them last August. With 41 European appearances down the hatch and 105 in the CPL preceding it, Zator is a likely candidate to press the established starters for a spot.

Nashville SC Lukas MacNaughton Messi
Photo Credit: Nashville SC

Nashville – Lukas MacNaughton

Having established himself as a starting centre-back for Nashville midway through last season, Lukas looks to be a trade that certainly got away from Toronto FC. He’s certainly a player on the national team radar, having flown to Qatar to train with them during the World Cup.

The six-foot-two defender wouldn’t be a professional footballer today if it wasn’t for the Canadian Premier League, with Pacific taking in the six-foot-two University of Toronto architecture student and helping form him into a title-winning defender.

Now set for a big year in Nashville – where Forge’s Woobens Pacius has landed – it’ll be interesting to see if MacNaughton can fight his way back into national team contention.

Canada James Pantemis

Portland Timbers – James Pantemis

Another former Valour loanee, James Pantemis was an absolute rock for the side during the 2020 Island Games season before he used that momentum to usurp the starting role with CF Montreal one year later.

Last season saw James injured in CF Montreal’s season opener, and an in-form Sirois took his spot and ran with it. Now with Portland Timbers, Pantemis helped the side open to a 4-1 win this weekend while teammate Maxime Crepeau remains out of the lineup.

Ross County Victor Loturi
Photo Credit: Ken MacPherson

Ross County – Victor Loturi

Once one of the youngest athletes to grace the Canadian Premier League, Calgary’s own Victor Loturi established himself as one of the best midfielders in the league with Cavalry FC, earning a Best U-21 Domestic Athlete nomination before securing a transfer to Scottish top flight side Ross County.

The 22-year-old has grasped the opportunity well, now tallying 58 appearances whilst in Europe – that’s more than his time in Canada. The 22-year-old is getting big minutes with Ross County, who play in in central and defensive midfield roles that are an area of interest at the national team level.

Biello will want to form a strong team against Trinidad and Tobago, who themselves have a growing number of current Canadian Premier League athletes. His interim extension was confirmed last month to mixed reaction after Canada endured a stunning collapse to Jamaica at home following the high of a historic victory away.

The winner of this matchup will book their place into Group A of the 2024 Copa America and will face the likes of Peru, Chile, and reigning World Champions Argentina in June.

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